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Set 30, 2012, 2:30 pm

Hello everyone -

I'm about to embark, yet again, on a mission to cook a new dish from every cookery book I own (currently 260). This is my fourth attempt and I don't think I've ever made it past 10-11 books. So I wondered whether any members of this group had achieved this goal, and if so, how - did you have a cunning plan at the outset? Did you just pick a book off the shelf at random each week?

Editado: Out 1, 2012, 2:17 pm

And I thought I was the only one. I just go to the next one on the shelf and pick out a recipe. I also have the unfortunate habit of scribbling the date I cooked it, whether it was for a special occasion and if it was any good. Purists would say I'm ruining the value of the cookbook, but I suspect the splatters and stains have already done that.

eta - I only have 167 cookbooks so didn't have quite so far to go as you do.

On another note, I've misplaced my mother's recipe box with the ancient handwritten recipes in it. I'm sure it will turn up eventually, but in the meantime I'm desperately searching for a persimmon pudding recipe as it's that time of year. If anyone has one let me know.

Editado: Out 1, 2012, 2:34 pm

What helped me enormously is reviewing the recipes at, and keeping track of them in an Excel sheet that looks like this:

I started out with fewer than 20% of my cookbooks tested three years ago (and a lot fewer books than I own now :) ).

Editado: Out 7, 2012, 10:36 am

Varielle - Nothing wrong with annotating! It may not do much for the monetary value, but I enjoy other people's comments in my books.

I think I'm going to go with the random selection method - plus a lot of my books are full of little slips of paper marking recipes I've liked the look of but never got round to, so this will be the time to have another look at a few of those.

I made a start yesterday with Lord Woolton Pie from Food Facts for the Kitchen Front, which was about as bad as I expected.

Editado: Out 7, 2012, 11:34 am

rfb - That looks like an interesting website, thanks for the link. For the moment I've printed off a copy of my list from Librarything to help me keep track.

eta - have joined, and am planning to add each book and review each recipe as I go along.

Out 8, 2012, 9:46 pm

#2 Joy of Cooking has some great sounding persimmon recipes. I haven`t made them, but I wish I had. Where do you get persimmons?? I make very light pencil marks in my cookbooks, as it hurts me to write in any book. I know that`s silly, but an old habit Ha! Marcia Adams cookbook, Heartland, has a recipe for persimmon ice cream. Even a source for canned pulp--Dymple`s Delight--Rt. 4, box 53 Mitchell, Indiana 47446.

Out 9, 2012, 11:26 am

It might be worth it to order canned pulp, because separating the seeds is a major pain. Persimmon trees grow wild here in the southern US, so you just have to find one. My friend from Kansas tells me they grow wild there too. My sister lives on a golf course that has a few growing on the fringes. We go pick them up which seems to make the groundskeepers happy because they can be a real mess.

Out 10, 2012, 1:58 am

My cookbooks are the only books I'll write in. How else will I, or my heirs and successors, know to "sub half water with milk", "+ half again" or even "No! Use Mum's method."?

Out 10, 2012, 3:15 am

Or even just that we had it two years ago and liked it?
I tend to put in date and a comment like 'Good!' or 'Never again.'

Out 10, 2012, 3:14 pm

I hate writing in books, too, but I like those church lady cookbook compilations which have terrible indexes or no indexes at all. So I have taken to highlighting my favorite recipes in the indexes or penciling recipes and page numbers on the inside cover or back pages.

I also have a 3-ring binder where I put recipes I've printed off the Internet or gotten handwritten. I put them in clear page protectors. Have seriously considered typing up all the handwritten & family recipes and using one of those print-on-demand services to make copies for family.

Out 10, 2012, 3:55 pm

I want to make a scrapbook-like creation for all the recipes I enjoy.

Out 10, 2012, 8:22 pm

I recently paid the grand sum of $1.99 for a really useful and very easy to use iPad app called My Recipe Book. I have entered all the tattered and yellowing recipes that I had cut out of the paper or printed off from the internet. The app's best feature has to be the ability to download recipes direct from websites. It comes equipped with some of the best known sites like Epicurious and Taste, but you can add your own and I have been having a great time downloading from the UK Guardian recipes by Yotam Ottolenghi, Nigel Slater and Hugh Fearnley Whittingstall.

Out 12, 2012, 9:45 pm

Now that looks interesting! Thanks for that, Derrick.

(This is the app's website, which contains the link to the app store.)

Out 14, 2012, 12:39 pm

#12 Thanks for suggesting this site. Awesome! I have so many email recipe sites, I can`t keep track. This is the answer! certainly worth 2 bucks.

Out 14, 2012, 3:52 pm

#12 How do you add printed recipes, for example from cookbooks? I'm still looking for a website that would help me manage recipes and ingredient lists and have seen a few similar websites like this, eg., but the problem is always that the only way to import recipes from cookbooks is to add everything manually.

Out 14, 2012, 4:04 pm

>15 rfb: You're always going to have to manually add them. Otherwise it would mean the content of the books was available for free online for everyone to access. Or else the publishers would have to supply the makers of this app with their books for some sort of incredibly high licensing fee (since goodness knows how many people would access it), which would make the price of the app jump astronomically.

Out 14, 2012, 7:01 pm

Yes and no. You could for example automatically search for the recipe online on food websites and blogs and then import those - of course that wouldn't help with all recipes.. I guess it's also just wishful thinking...

Out 15, 2012, 5:02 am

Only if someone happens to have put it in a blog, which given the massive number of cookbooks out there is highly unlikely (unless you just look for those wildly popular ones, but even then only a few from the book will actually be out there), and said blog is popular enough to hit on in searches, and the post is appropriately titled & labeled so that it's found. And often times the recipes are adapted to the person's preferences as well. So, not really likely.

Out 16, 2012, 5:53 am

You might try - it was recently listed in an article in The Guardian, and I am currently happily adding recipes. The advantage is that you can export all your recipes in a standard format. the disadvantage is that you can't (yet) have a photo. The other unique point is that it allows you to enter 'batch' details when you make the recipe, and to adjust the ingredients and instructions.

Out 16, 2012, 6:56 am

>19 sarahemmm: Interesting site, except that it's quite expensive *and* has a cap on recipes! I'm almost scared to know what their unlimited account prices will be!

Out 16, 2012, 3:17 pm

I signed up with yesterday to test how many of my recipes I'd find online. Unfortunately, it doesn't always work. Depending on the website, it may pick up only the instructions (does this for BBC Good Food) or the ingredients, and sometimes it doesn't do either but gives a error message that it can't import recipes from that site. There's a list of websites they do support for import:

Out 17, 2012, 9:42 pm

Rather than try and do something from each book I own, which is nowhere as large as yours I pick one recipe type eg. Muffins

I then bake a muffin recipe from each book that has one until I am completely over muffins.

My Favourite so far has been crackers! I never realised they were so easy to make and way tastier then anything I have ever bought.

Out 22, 2012, 12:24 am

>13 justjim:
It's not Derrick, mate, it's me, aka Bunyip! He does computer programs, I do recipes, but we share the library and the LibraryThing membership (the embroidery books are mine too).

I have found that quite a few of the recipes published in The Guardian (which has a colossal archive) also appear in books published by the authors, who I tend to favour anyway. Sometimes there will be a recipe which I like in a book I already own by, say, Nigel Slater, and I find it online and import it for ease of use and finding. It can be maddening not knowing which book it's in.

Similarly I've got quite a collection of Delicious magazines (which I no longer buy). The recipes I've got marked are pretty well all downloadable from the Taste website, with photos too! I am going to go through them, download the recipes I want and then throw them out, clearing a shelf for books!

Speaking of ease of use, do many people take their tablet into the kitchen? I keep my iPad in a nifty bean-bag thingy called a TabCoosh which lets you prop it up on any surface with much more stability than the Apple cover/stand. You've just got to keep it clear of the actual cooking, like a real book really. The kitchen ware place at the market is selling a heavy-based chef figurine - you prop the tablet up across his feet and it is supported by his outstretched arms.

Out 23, 2012, 6:28 pm

I find the iPad a great boon in the kitchen. Epi, SL, Food, all recipes are so easy to access. I love it!!

Out 28, 2012, 12:36 pm

>23 dajashby: - My sister-in-law bought me a Book Chair last Christmas, which is essentially a traditional British deckchair in miniature form with a ledge to prop a cookbook on. It looked very flimsy and I thanked her for it with less than total sincerity, but it's turned out really useful - can accommodate all but the thickest books (up to and including 410 pages of Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall's River Cottage Veg Every Day) so would have no trouble with an iPad, and folds away neatly when not needed.

I've made it to book 12 in my mission: favourite new recipe so far is Curried Parsnip Soup (rather a surprise as I hate parsnips); least favourite is Woolton Pie which is not a surprise.

Out 29, 2012, 8:52 am

I'm just back from Ireland where I may have encountered parsnips for the first time. It's much too hot where I live for them to grow. Turns out I liked them very much.

Out 31, 2012, 2:50 pm

It took a long time for me to accept them but now I love roasted parsnips, they're better than any other roasted vegetable. Steamed or boiled parsnips are also good with a little maple syrup drizzled over them. I can't remember where I got the original recipe.

Out 31, 2012, 6:50 pm

Parsnips are wonderful steamed or boiled and then pureed with lots of butter.

Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall gives a great recipe for parsnip and maple syrup tart tatin. And Nigel Slater positively waxes lyrical about them in his recent books.

Nov 1, 2012, 1:35 am

>23 dajashby: Oops. Sorry for the mix up! I finally got around to buying the My Recipe Book iPad app the other day. It is really, really good. Even on sites that it doesn't recognise, the 'custom import' just works a treat. I can now have my very favourite baked cheesecake recipe with me at all times!

Nov 1, 2012, 8:17 am

#28: Not just the recent ones. Real cooking (1997) has a recipe for parsnips with browned shallots, garlic and spices. Excellent.

Nov 2, 2012, 1:04 am

There are shallots in the tarte tatin too, the combination must work. I really must give it a try.

This weekend I am going to attempt Hugh F-W's recipe for parsnip and cider soup. I can't quite imagine the taste, but it has got to be worth trying. We always have cider in the house these days - boutique cider is the coming thing and since I've never liked beer anyway I am encouraging Mr dajashby to develop his interest in it.

Nov 9, 2012, 5:15 pm

Because of age and dietary restrictions (my husband is now lactose intolerant!) I'm having to readjust my whole way of cooking. Cheese has always been a favorite ingredient, too. Anyone know of a cookbook I can turn to?

Nov 9, 2012, 8:39 pm


Have you thought of consulting a dietician? It seems to me that what you're looking at is adapting your existing recipes rather than abandoning them altogether. When my bad cholesterol started creeping up that was what I did - less butter, more olive oil and so on. It worked.

You don't say why cheese is a problem, but if it's any comfort Harold McGee assures us that it contains little or no lactose. And yoghurt is positively beneficial for lactose digestion.

Editado: Nov 10, 2012, 3:56 am

>32 by mlpicou, I know I've come across a couple in my amazon browsing (and wishlisting, heh) for cookbooks I might like to have some day, I'll have a look if I've got any of them listed (I also always look through reviews @ what people have thought of it and only list ones that win me over, so even though I won't have used it myself, it has high reviews!)

Okay, here's what I've got saved:
The Food Allergy Mama's Baking Book: Great Dairy-, Egg-, and Nut-Free Treats for the Whole Family
Go Dairy Free: The Guide and Cookbook for Milk Allergies, Lactose Intolerance, and Casein-Free Living
(these 2 have over 80 reviews each, very positive)
366 Simply Delicious Dairy-Free Recipes
(this one has 4 reviews, three 4 & 5 star, one 2 - because it uses lots of tofu & they didn't like that)
Not a Drop of Milk...: (or Soy)
(only one review but it goes into lots of detail about why it was so great that they gave it 5 stars)
Not Milk...Nut Milks!: 40 of the Most Original Dairy-Free Milk Recipes Ever!
(title says it - uses nut milks instead. 4 reviews, all 4 & 5 star)

Hope that maybe helps you out a little!

(Also, just a note, the links aren't touchstones but links to amazon, so that you could look over their reviews. It's not actually encouragement to buy there or anything, just so you could look over what people had to say about them, which amazon is very useful for)

>33 by dajashby, mlpicou said quite clearly why - her husband is lactose intolerant. Regardless of what this Harold McGee guy says, the main component of (most) cheese is cow milk.

Nov 10, 2012, 7:37 pm

You can't dismiss McGee as "this guy" if you haven't read him. The scientific fact is that cheese, whatever sort of milk it's made from, has had the lactose processed out of it into the whey, and the fermentation takes care of any that remains. Any qualified dietician will confirm this, but McGee is an easily accessible authority that I happen to have handy.

Nov 10, 2012, 8:37 pm

Lactose intolerance is something that differs with each person. Some people are able to handle small amounts of lactose, others cannot handle any at all. Without more information about her husbands specific needs, I cannot comment more about recipies or ideas.

However, as someone who is lactose intolerance, and severely so, cheese DOES still contain small amounts of lactose, which does affect me. I know that the majority of the lactose is removed as the cheese is made, but a small amount does remain in the cheese, and for those with severe lactose intolerance, it does cause problems.

While an average glass of milk contains 9-12g of lactose, 30g of cheese contains up to 0.1g of lactose- much smaller amounts, sure, but it is still there. Do not assume cheese is safe for someone who is lactose intolerant.

Nov 15, 2012, 12:30 am

I sit corrected. You must find things very difficult.

Nov 16, 2012, 6:27 pm

I finally figured out I was lactose intolerant from an episode of The Big Bang Theory.

Nov 23, 2012, 6:47 pm

Thanks for the advice. We know - from experience- that cheese is a problem, but I've been told that Trader Joe's carries a lacrose free substitute, so we'll try that. Incidently, parnesan, in small doses, doesn't seem too bad.

Abr 4, 2015, 1:19 am

I find that shallots give a strangely haunting yet enticing quality to tarte tatin. But you have to mince them; otherwise, you get diced or sliced bits, which is jarring - at least, visually.

Abr 6, 2015, 3:50 pm

Can the ap My Recipe Book be opened on your regular computer??I paid the fee but can't open it...

Abr 6, 2015, 4:02 pm

>41 kerrlm: Looks like it's a mobile device app only. iPad/iPhone.

Fev 9, 2018, 9:46 am

>1 Sovay: Wondering if you are continuing?

My husband and I chose the topic/activity of "Baking" this year for our explorations in our goal of "growing" old together (as opposed to stagnating). Last year was "Art."

Anyway, we take turns plucking a cookbook off of my shelves, and the other one gets to chose the recipe, preferably something to challenge our skills. Easy for my husband as he has not done much cooking.

First cookbook I chose was The Mitford Cookbook, he picked Rose's Banana Pudding, which baked all of 8 minutes in the oven to brown the meringue. Still, he learned how to make pudding from scratch which is good, since he used the leftover egg yolks a few days later to make chocolate pudding. Both were scrumptious.

Second cookbook he picked was Elena's Secrets of Mexican Cooking, I picked a recipe for roasted chicken which called for the chicken to be de-boned then stuffed, something I never have done before. I did two of them, the second one being much easier once I knew where to find the joints, etc. I only broke the skin by the wings twice. This is a recipe I will be using again, but the stuffing will be altered to suit my whims. Delicious, and so fun to serve at the table!

Editado: Fev 24, 2018, 1:43 pm

I try to get a new recipe every week for the weekend. My cookbooks are tagged with ‘cookery’. As you can see, I own quite a few.

My last recipe was a homemade Parisian flan. It was delish, and I am not buying any more industrial flan, it was *that* good.

Editado: Maio 3, 2018, 8:42 pm

MrsLee: I am indeed continuing - I've now cooked new recipes from 144 books; seventeenth century Swede Pie from Count Peter's Receipt Book has been a particularly unexpected highlight so far. I'm not sure how many books I've got still to go since quite a few of the original 260 are no longer on my shelves, but more books (many more books!) have replaced them - current total is 274.

How brave of you to tackle the de-boned chicken recipes! I'm glad to hear they were worth the effort.